Select Page

Ambition in the face of mortality…

“It’s difficult to say at this time.There may be a chance that you’ll survive and live through this”
That was the prognosis shared with me in 2007 by a very reputed doctor in AIIMS Delhi. Hearing those words gave me a very different perspective about life. The experience had contrasting effects on me.
On the positive side:
  • I learnt that my time here is limited. I got a harsh lesson that terminal illnesses are not something that happen to “only to other people”- I’m not immune!… no one is.
  • I always used to get pissed when my time was being wasted by anyone; and I hated it when I lost money. After one year of living like a vegetable staring at the ceiling above my bed, and after spending a fortune in medical expenses, I realised that neither my money, nor my time is truly mine. It can be taken away from me at any time. I learnt not to bother about small setbacks. “This too shall pass” is no longer a trite colloquial phrase for me.
On the negative side, I became… bitter. I had lost all ambition!
I believe that facing mortality can swing you either of two ways – it can either give you laser like focus towards achieving your goals at a fiery pace, or it can bring you down to the point where not only do you lose faith in any Higher power, you also lose all sense of wonder about the world.
You get into the “What’s the point?” Mindset – a mindset where you believe that your life is just transient; that you, and everyone, everything around you is here by accident, a series of chemical reactions; so, why bother carrying desires to achieve anything – you’re going to turn to dust soon. No matter how healthy you are, there’s no way to know how much time do you have left.
This is a very dark and scary place to be in.


It took me so many years to get myself out of this quagmire of skepticism… but when I did come back out – It was with the below realisations:
  • I realised that I can never undo the memories of all the bad things that happened to me. Instead, I need to accept that these memories are, forever – a reflection of who I am.
  • I made my peace with the “absence of certainty in life”. If all I am is life’s sparring partner – then so be it. I’ll take life’s best punches – and I’ll stand up and raise my gloves after each fall, right upto the point I am knocked out. I’ll keep learning new things, keep doing new things, keep seeking new adventures until my time’s up.
  • I realised that life, indeed is beautiful – That until I die, I am still living, and that I’m lucky to have been given a chance to be here.
  • I realised my mind can be trained to unshackle itself from the limitations it imposes on itself.
  • I realised that others in the past… people who would have been no different than me – would have worked really hard for me to be able to live the way I am living; It’s only fair that I strive to contribute in whatever way I can, till the time I can.
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”  
– The Bible

Lesson: Give it away for free

Zindagi’s first project involved designing and implementing the network for an armed forces organisation. Much to the chagrin of my team – I did that project without a PO.
Zindagi’s first full blown Cisco ACI implementation was done on a PO worth 1 Lac INR, around 1400 USD! That includes travel and other expenses.
When I started out – I didn’t have a guide in the industry who I could trust and seek advice from, or with whom I could brainstorm my ideas on how to build revenue. The entire process of entrepreneurship for me was full of trial and error.
“Bhai, tujhe dhanda karna nahi aata”
If I were given a dollar for each time I have heard that phrase, boy, my topline would look really sexy 🙂
After 2 years of having been an ‘accidental businessman’, I’ve not only been able to keep the company afloat; I’ve got new paying customers; I’ve connected with multiple people who have influence; I’ve built a team of brilliant engineers; all while ensuring that we’re in the green when it comes to the bottom line.
If someone were to ask me today – How do I start? How to increase clients? How to grow my topline? How to be successful? – My response would be: Give it away for free…
You’ve got to start somewhere. Might as well show your value by giving what you have for free.. or, for a small token amount perhaps. Not only will you gain confidence in your capabilities to deliver – next time, when you “sell your product / service”, you would have a much better understanding of it’s worth. By giving it away for free – You’ll not only get customers, you’ll have market tested products / services, you’ll gain respect – and most importantly you’ll get new ideas on how to improve on your offering, and what else can you offer.
Here’s a pertinent quote from Paul Arden’s book “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be”:
Give away everything you know, and more will come back to you.
Remember at school other students preventing you from seeing their answers by placing their arm around their exercise book or exam paper.
The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves.
Eventually you’ll become STALE.
If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish.
Somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.
Ideas are open knowledge. Don’t claim ownership.
They’re not your ideas anyway, they’re someone else’s. They are out there floating on the ether. You just have to put yourself in a frame of mind to pick them up.

Lesson: Be nice… to everyone, and never break trust!

Here’s the banner that’s on my Zindagi email signature – right below our logo is our company motto, that articulates our ideals:
Abhijit S Anand, CCIE#19590(DC,Collab),VCP6-DCV, VCP6-NV, VCP6-CMA, RHCE, CWNA, CWSP
VP, Operations | Zindagi Technologies | | +9197XXX25XXX | @AbhijitSAnand
“You can have what you want, if you help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Meet Me on | Join by Phone: +91-11-6480-0114 | Meeting ID: 579 056 037
Let’s say if you were to decide today – that you’ll treat everyone with respect, consistently – irrespective of their rank, social stature, religion; irrespective of whether they have something to give you – or the other way around. What if you were to commit that you will build long lasting relationships of trust with your family, your customers, partners, and your friends.
Where will you seek to gain inspiration for change? Religion? Spirituality?
For me, this realisation was years ago – when I was sulking after having spoken rudely to my mom – something that I would shamelessly admit having done many a times back then – and that too for petty issues. It’s odd how one tends to lose respect for their loved ones just because they live under the same roof. That same day, I’d have spoken to my customers, colleagues, or my boss in a polite tone – because social decorum demanded it, because I’d want to make a good impression.. or simply because I’d not want to get fired. What hypocrisy 😞 !
In that moment of epiphany, that I decided to change:
  • I’ll try each day not to be an A$$.
  • I’ll be consistent in my conduct irrespective of who I talk to – be it at home or in office.
  • In each relationship I maintain, be it with family, customers, partners, co-workers or friends – I’ll maintain a positive balance in the “Relationship Bank Account”
When Aditi and I got married – we made a pact… We’ll work on our relationship each day – we’ll make it a practice to invest in our “relationship bank account” each day – so that, when times are tough and we’re stressed, the withdrawals won’t cause the account to be overdrawn.
If you’ve never heard of the “Relationship Bank Account paradigm” – it’s espoused by Stephen Covey in his book – it’s a simple yet profound concept – here’s a quick summary:
  • We know how regular bank accounts work – you make a deposit, save some money – and you withdraw money when you need it.
  • A relationship bank account is an account of trust instead of money. An account of how safe you feel with the other person.
  • Covey talks about 6 major ways to make deposits and avoid withdrawals:

1. Understanding the individual:

  • Seek to understand first than to be understood. When speaking to someone, don’t just wait for them to finish so you can speak. Learn to listen, concentrate and emphasise with how they feel.

2. Keeping your commitments:

  • Don’t break promises you’ve made. If you have to meet someone at 10 AM, be there at 9:55 AM. If you’ve committed to complete a project by a certain date – put your heart and soul into ensuring you honour that commitment. Living up to every word that comes out of your mouth goes a long way in building up the emotional reserves required to maintain a relationship.

3. Clarifying expectations:

  • We can’t expect others to know exactly what we want. Communicating our expectations clearly and succinctly helps build trust between individuals.

4. Attending to the little things:

  • Small courtesies, kind words, words of encouragement, genuine smiles, a little extra effort, doing something “you didn’t have to” – all these things build trust.

5. Showing Personal Integrity:

  • Integrity is the moral floor on which trusting relationships are built. When we consistently operate with a sound moral character, it makes it much easier for others to trust and believe in us. Nothing is probably more damaging to a relationship than lack of integrity.

6. Apologise sincerely when you make a withdrawal:

  • As humans, we’ll make mistakes that will lead to withdrawals from the bank account. Knowing you were wrong, admitting you were wrong, and apologising sincerely prevents wounds from festering and gives them a chance to heal.

Nicety when negotiating

As an entrepreneur and the founder of a bootstrapped startup, I am responsible for owning the company’s P&L and ensuring that we’re always in the green. A key responsibility for a person in my shoes is to know how to negotiate. The problem is – I can’t! I’ve read books on negotiation; I’ve gone through Udemy videos to improve negotiation skills – however when it comes to sitting face to face with the SCM / procurement guys – I go red-faced and my lips get parched as the negotiator tries every trick in the book to break me:
  • I’ve been called for a negotiation meeting at 9 AM, and made to wait in the lobby till 4 PM with the occasional message “Sir toh abhi busy hain, aap ke liye kuch laye…chai piyoge?”
  • The value of my services have been be-rated and scoffed at by the “bad cop” in the room.
  • I’ve been “salami sliced” – where my offer is broken down into small components, and then concessions are sought for each one individually.
Being treated like this can easily cause you to lose your chi and let your emotions get the better of you.
Here’s how I’ve dealt when treated this way in the past:
  • Always be nice! I tell myself – it’s this guys job to treat me like this. He may be the nicest person in the world, but he’s just doing this in the interest of his company. I’ll not let the pressure get to me – I’m here to offer my services to them, and I’ll do so like a gentleman.
  • I know the worth of what I’m offering. As a provider of best in class professional services, I know this market and I’ve seen what the competition is offering – I’ve seen projects fail because they were given to someone who picked it up and sub-contracted, who further sub-contracted – thus resulting in total lack of ownership, no accountability, missed deadlines, and unhappy customers. I make sure I articulate this politely and unapologetically.
  • Refer the above lesson “Give if away for free”, I have had the chance to test the value of my services. I, therefore, know my “walk away” price – the point below which I won’t make a decent enough margin for all the effort my team will put into this. If I’m pushed beyond that price, I politely refuse by stating that its unfortunate that we can’t work on this deal, and that I hope we can work together in the future.

Trust and Temptations

As an IT consultancy, Zindagi Technologies takes part in deciding which products / solutions are the best fit for a set of requirements. Given the large milieu of vendors in the ICT ecosystem – we partner with many organisations when stitching together the solution.
In the past 2 years – I’ve been tempted with rewards, to act in such a way that where my actions would cause me to break a verbal commitment with a business partner or customer. It’s at times such as these where your integrity is tested… it’s at these times when I look up at the above points and decide what I would lose if I were to give into such temptations.
Here’s what I’ve learnt – As your reputation grows as a trusted consultant to decision makers, the more you’ll be put into such like situations. At times like these – use the above points at guiding principles and put your customer’s interests paramount. Not only will you strengthen the relationship with your partner / customer – you’ll gain respect in the eyes of the individuals who tempt you in the first place.
Part 3…
Abhijit Anand

Subscribe to my News Letter

Be informed of when I add write new blog posts. I do not spam - Promise.

You have Successfully Subscribed!